Letters to the editor

October 15, 2003|by

No 'alternative' needed to theft of land value

To the editor:

There was an ad in the Aug. 26 edition of The Daily May for a 60.5 acre property near Smithsburg. The Realtor was suggesting a price of $1.05 million and was accepting sealed bids. The price per acre is about $17,000.

If tomorrow that property were zoned preservation it would be limited to one additional building site and the value would probably decline to the going rate for farmland of about $7,000 an acre. That would be a loss of over half million dollars to that owner. It is not improbable that the loss per acre on smaller parcels is even greater.

I don't ask that the County Commissioners believe these numbers or that the total loss county-wide due to down zoning is $100 million as suggested by the CPR organization. What I do ask is that the commissioners make a thorough independent financial analysis of the impact on the folks being down-zoned. The loss of equity due to down sizing is only half the story, however.


Those in the "Smart Growth" areas could profit handsomely because they will benefit from the de-facto county sponsored monopoly on selling building sites. The public should also be made aware of this windfall. Perhaps "on average" the county wide value will go up, but I suggest they do not take at face value the study which claims rezoning "on average" makes property values increase. The same methodology can prove you shouldn't drown in the Potomac because "on average" from end to end it is less than four feet deep.

It is not the business of the county to promote monopolies nor to redistribute wealth from one group to another.

There is the perception that the county, the State of Maryland and the federal government have no money to fund the current programs to buy development rights and have elected instead to just take them by legislative fiat. There is no pressing public need or public safety issue here that justifies the county to usurp these rights. "I don't want the county paved over" or "we need to preserve the open space for future generations" is not justification enough, especially since nearly one third of the county is already in parks, set-asides or preservation. How much is enough?

I sense a linkage between this rezoning plan and the former governor's Smart Growth Initiative. He is gone and his hand-picked successor was repudiated in the last election. Smart Growth is not far behind. Any benefit the county may have accrued by kow-towing to the former governor is gone too and is just another reason for not having to adopt this plan.

From time to time the editorial page insists that if you don't like a proposed plan you are obligated to offer an alternative. Quite faulty logic. If a thief proposes to rob me I don't need to counter propose "Hey, how about only taking half and beating me up instead." No, the proper response is "Don't steal anything." The same applies here.

The proponents of rezoning want to take away some of the value of our property. We don't need an alternative plan. Just don't take anything. Finally, remember that we already have a zoning plan and that what is before us is the alternative offered by those who want something they will not or cannot pay for.

Tom Berry

'Beagle Man' could use a wave

To the editor:

I just wanted everyone to know that my father, Berry Chaney Sr., the Beagle Man, will not be waving on Eastern Boulevard or anywhere else for a while. He is sick and he's in the hospital in Martinsburg.

We don't really know how long he will be there or when he will be able to come back home. He's doing a little better considering what he already has been through. I just wanted to let everyone know so that you may keep him in your prayers. If you would like to send cards or letters to him to cheer him up, please do so.

His address is 123 Elm St., Hagerstown, MD 21740 in care of Jacqueline K. Sprecher.

Jacqueline K. Sprecher

JFK can't handle critical comments

To the editor:

In 1976 I had the privilege of completing my first JFK Ultramarathon organized by the Cumberland Valley Athletic Club under the leadership of the legendary "Buzz" Sawyer. Last year I finished my 20th run and attained a goal reached by only approximately 25 other runners in the history of the event.

When I did not receive an entry form for this year's race, I requested one from the current race director Mike Spinnler. He responded with a letter stating that the JFK was an invitational event, that my entry was not in the best interests of the JFK or the CVAC, that he would not send me an entry form, and that if one were received from me it would be rejected.

In my years of participation in the race I have been an enthusiastic supporter and promoter of the event. The only criticism I ever levied was last year when I questioned the change in policy which split the field into two parts, mandating a 5 a.m. start for the slower runners, and retaining the traditional 7 a.m. start for the faster runners.

Apparently Spinnler was displeased with my criticism and has decided to "blacklist" me from the race.

Do the CVAV and, by association, Washington County really wish to convey the impression that honest criticism of one of their premier athletic events, the oldest and largest ultramarathon in the country, is dealt with in this manner?

Robert T. Sollenberger
Burke, Va.

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